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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Alabama OL Jonah Williams

Zach Goodall

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Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Jonah Williams (73) blocks against Clemson Tigers defensive end Austin Bryant (7) during the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go: The final Locked On Jaguars 2019 NFL Draft scouting report. I know, I didn’t go in-depth on any defensive prospects with these, as I am a strong believer that the Jaguars need to select a blue-chip offensive player at seventh overall. I’ve watched multiple defensive players who will be available at the pick, but my time felt best-served studying the prospects who could drastically improve Jacksonville’s offense heading into a crucial 2019 season.

Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams is at the top of that list of prospects.

Arm length be damned.

The three year, 44-game starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide started all 15 games at right tackle as a true freshman and was named to the 2nd team All-SEC before moving  to left tackle in 2017 to replace now-Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson. Since, Williams has earned back-to-back 1st team All-SEC and was named to the 2018 All-American team. His résumé, paired with his clear versatility and availability, should immediately jump off the page when researching Williams. It did for the Jaguars at least, because the team hosted him for a top-30 visit.

However, Williams has fallen victim to the overly lengthy draft process, where folks tend to overthink things. Williams’ Combine results created concerns with his game in the eyes of analysts everywhere, with short arms and average athleticism that has led many to believe he’s better suited as a guard in the NFL.

Jonah Williams’ athletic testing results and percentile rankings among charted NFL offensive tackles. Via MockDraftable.com

But Jonah Williams is a perfect example of why tape matters more than testing numbers. Yes, he has really short arms compared to the average NFL tackle. But if you based your opinion of him solely off of his arm length and not off of his tape, you wouldn’t understand that he consistently finds ways to elevate his game beyond that natural limitation.

FILM ROOM

Natural length limitations… and how he beats them

There are times on film where Williams will struggle against length edge rushers in one-on-one pass protection. When you consider his arm length ranks in the 26th percentile among NFL tackles, that’d to be expected from time to time.

There are going to be times where Williams loses battles vs. length. It’s just going to happen with his build. Defensive end Montez Sweat, who’s been projected as a top 10 pick before news broke of his enlarged heart, is as lengthy a pass rusher as they come. At 6-5 3/4″ (88th percentile among NFL DEs) with 35 3/4″ arms (97th %tile), Sweat utilizes length in order to win pass rush matchups, and tackles with 26th percentile arms like Jonah Williams typically won’t stand a chance when they get locked out.

That is, unless you’re Jonah Williams:

One of the most impressive aspects of Williams’ game is his mental processing. Off the field, Williams studies his opponents like no other, creating spreadsheets of opposing defensive ends pass rushing moves and charting their impacts, in order to plan his approach for an upcoming game. And you can see that processing on film, and it does him wonders despite natural limitations with length. Above, Williams is paired with Sweat again, and Sweat attempts to lockout and pull again, much like the previous rep which was two quarters before.

Williams understands the same move is coming through the initial contact, and reacts swiftly. He gets his arms over Sweat’s double arm-bars to limit a full extension and obtain leverage through the move, then utilizes his strength to eliminate the arm bars and win the rep.

This is smart football. And this mental preparation paired with refined technique is what separates Williams from the natural length limitations as a pass protector.

Same story here vs. Clemson in the National Championship. On the first play of the game, vs. projected top-20 pick defensive end Clelin Ferrell who stands at 6-4 3/8″ (69th %tile) with 34 1/8th” arms (72nd %tile), Ferrell gets early leverage and locks out with a double arm-bar and pulls Williams through before he can recover. But much like against Sweat, Williams notes this for future reference…

Only a couple of plays later, Williams’ initial punch hits before Ferrell can extend, and Williams’ hand placement prevents Ferrell from getting any extension. Williams follows the early leverage gain with excellent, chopping footwork to mirror Ferrell’s direction and eliminate him from creating pressure.

Williams’ masterful hand technique identifies Ferrell’s inside hand reach to begin an arm-bar and knocks it away, which derails Ferrell’s initial pass rush plan of a long arm and rip move. With that initial leverage and understanding of Ferrell’s attack, Williams can get his outside arm through Ferrell’s chest to minimize the impact of Ferrell’s inside rip move.

Again… Ferrell attempts the same move as he did above, and while Williams doesn’t necessarily win this rep cleanly, he still comes out on top by eliminating Ferrell from disrupting this pass. Williams’ inside hand knocks away the inside arm bar, and Williams gets through the inside rip move to force Ferrell outside. Getting popped up early turns this into a more powerful rush for Ferrell, and makes the end result less clean of a win for Williams, but regardless: A win is a win.

So yes, Williams’ length can work against him sometimes. Much like how every offensive lineman has a natural limitation work against them. It’s about how a player rises above those limitations to win that’s important, and Jonah Williams is as polished as they come at overcoming his obstacles.

Mean streak blocking

Jonah Williams plays football with a violent attitude. He finds pleasure in knocking defenders off of their feet and into the dirt.

Much like my report on Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, I can just put a running thread of clips of Williams’ mean streak and they’ll explain themselves. He makes blocking fun to watch.

(This is Williams totally stone-walling defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, another projected first round pick… by the way.)

Hand technique

Jonah Williams’ hand usage is incredibly poised, and is consistently on display in order to win blocks. He moves them quickly and in sync with what he sees from the defensive ends hand and arm movement, and he punches with a ton of violence in order to kill any pass rush plan coming his way.

Same story, different play. And Williams getting his hands to your chest will stall out defenders more often than not. He’s just so violent.

Williams cuts across Ferrell’s face swiftly and gets his hands to Ferrell’s shoulder quickly in order to keep Ferrell’s arms contained. The short screen would have easily been batted away by Ferrell without an adequate block, but Williams’ quick movement and technique allows this screen play to develop.

Fit with Jacksonville

While Jonah Williams spent the past two seasons at left tackle for Alabama, and despite many analysts projecting him as an interior player at the NFL level, I think Williams would fill in perfectly at right tackle for the Jaguars and reunite with Cam Robinson as bookends for Jacksonville’s offensive line. This would make Will Richardson the team’s swing tackle, and a former fourth round pick that the team considered a “value pick” serving as the swing tackle is excellent depth value.

And then, considering Williams could fit just about anywhere on the offensive line, he becomes an immediate chess-piece if any injuries occur. If Cam Robinson goes down, Williams could slide to left tackle with experience and have Richardson handle RT. If Andrew Norwell or A.J. Cann go down at either guard spot, Williams has the size and technique down to move inside and play well there, with Robinson and Richardson playing outside. You can plug-and-play Williams pretty much anywhere.

And then… there’s a legitimate connection between the Jaguars and Jonah Williams that must be noted. Thanks to Filip Prus of Big Cat Country and soon-to-be co-host of Locked On Jaguars for sending this info my way.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has repeatedly stated the value of references throughout the 2019 offseason and how it has impacted decision making. He said it about the hiring of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo:

My process has always been to go with people I’ve coached with, people that I’ve coached with or who have coached with the other coaches. It’s very difficult for me to try to hire someone I don’t have any type of relationship with at all – or at least someone I know and trust.

He said it about the signing of quarterback Nick Foles:

“Really, for me, you gotta be able to talk to people you trust. You have to hear that, so you get the truth. And sometimes, that’s the hardest thing—when you’re trying to find out, and going through the process, whether it’s free agents or the college draft, finding someone you can trust that’s gonna tell you exactly what’s going on.”

And… he said it two years ago when the Jaguars drafted left tackle Cam Robinson, noting his relationship with former Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key. Key coached Jonah Williams at Alabama through the 2018 season before taking the Georgia Tech associate head coach and run game coordinator job recently:

Marrone said he was able to get a unique perspective on Robinson because of his relationship with the Alabama coaching staff. From 1997 through 1999, Marrone worked as the offensive-line coach at Georgia Tech, where he coached current Alabama offensive-line coach Brent Key, who played guard for the Yellow Jackets.

“Coach (Nick) Saban was great,” Marrone said during a press conference after the Jaguars picked Robinson. “I’ve known coach Saban for a long period of time. And then actually his position coach is a player that I had coached when I was at Georgia Tech, Brent Key. So obviously I have a lot of insight because of the relationship I had and felt very comfortable with the player.”

And what did Marrone learn about Robinson through this extra access?

“A very tough player,” Marrone said. “That was the one thing when I was talking to coach Key, who I coached, who was a tough football player himself, knows what I’m looking for, knows what I like. Hey, I need to know: Is this kid a tough kid? He said, ‘Absolutely.’ And that really means a lot because of the relationship I had with coach Key.”

If history indicates anything, Doug Marrone values the references he has access too across the NFL, whether it be for coach hirings, free agent signings, or draft prospects. Considering his long, well-documented relationship with Brent Key and the knowledge we have of Key’s impact on the Robinson selection two years ago, it’s tough to assume Marrone won’t utilize Key’s word on Williams, who Jacksonville recently hosted for a top-30 visit.

Oh, and Key is a huge fan of Williams, by the way:

He’s [Williams] a special player, a special person, a special talent. To have somebody that has that much talent, yet be such an intellectual player … he studies the game … Really, just a coach on the field to the point where Sunday and Monday nights he’ll be in my office watching tape until late – 9:30, 10 o’clock – watching the blitzes, watching the pass rush. He gives his initial game plan thoughts. I’ll get a text at 12, 12:30 at night from him, ‘Hey, coach, what about this? What about that? I’m looking at this game, have you seen this?’

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Three year starter at LT/RT, earning numerous All-SEC/All-American honors
  • Physical, mauling run blocker crossing the line of scrimmage
  • Active chopping feet to mirror pass rushers and drive defenders
  • Processing/athleticism on combo blocks makes him flexible to play in and out
  • Mental game is top notch. Charts pass rush moves in film study. Adjusts incredibly well to length moves with refined technique and understanding pass rush plans
  • Hand technique is as polished as it gets. Quick, mean punch to knock hands away through pass rush

Cons

  • Length. 6-4 1/2 (15th %tile), 33 5/8″ arms (26th)
  • Lack of length can prevent gaining initial leverage which makes for tougher recovery
  • Weight (302 lbs) could lead to issues vs. power outside
  • Athletic testing scores came back average/below average

Conclusion

Jonah Williams is a player with very few negative aspects to his on-field game, but has fallen victim to draft-season nitpicking due to his athletic profile. While his size makes him appealing as guard, I believe he has the technique, mental processing ability, and on-tape athleticism and strength to be a world beater at tackle or anywhere on the offensive line.

If Jacksonville chooses to go offensive line in the first round, Jonah Williams has the résumé to be worth the pick. He’d be an immediate upgrade to the Jaguars offensive line and provide a ton of flexibility for the team’s depth purposes. Doug Marrone’s connection with Williams’ offensive line coach Brent Key only strengthens the idea of Williams ending up in back and teal, and the Jaguars would welcome Williams with open arms to help protect newly-signed QB Nick Foles.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Texans: Five observations, red zone issues remain

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws under pressure from the Houston Texans defensive line men during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) will be left with a lot to work on during their bye week. There was plenty to gather from the team’s 26-3 loss against the Houston Texans (6-3) in London.

1. Jaguars red-zone woes are still prevalent and have no fix in sight

In the red zone this season, the Jaguars have completed 34.5% (10/29) of their opportunities for touchdowns.  This ranks only better than the Cincinnati Bengals (33.33%) in the entire NFL.

While quarterback play is an issue in this area, the Jaguars have not made the most of their play-call opportunities either. The Jaguars entered the Houston Texans’ red zone only twice in 11 drives on Sunday.

During the two drives in the red zone, the Jaguars completed 0 passes and ran the ball one other time with Leonard Fournette for three yards. Simply not good enough.

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has spoken about the team’s ineffectiveness on red zone opportunities. “We moved the football well, but we need to do a better job in the red zone,” DeFilippo said on Thursday following the team’s week seven victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I need to do a better job of helping our guys get open. We need to do a better job executing and being more detailed and throwing the ball on time and all of those things. Again, all of that starts with me, and I will do a better job with that.”

Two weeks later and the team’s struggles have continued.

2. Gardner Minshew might take a backseat

Already discussed, the Jaguars might be in for a quarterback change coming out of their week 10 bye week. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in Sunday’s game, and head coach Doug Marrone will have a tough decision to make.

Although Minshew was playing with a sore right shoulder, he was able to practice in full all week leading up to their matchup at Wimbley. Regardless, the Jaguars will have to make a decision, and everything points to Nick Foles being the team’s starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in week 11.

Now completely Minshew’s fault, his struggles in the red zone have been evident for the past several weeks. Foles — during the 2017 and 2018 seasons when he started for the Philidelphia Eagles — was efficient in the red zone, which could point to his maturity as a passer more than anything.

The Jaguars will want to see what they can get out of their veteran quarterback, and there is a reason to believe the Jaguars’ head coach is leaning in this direction. If Foles is not named the starting quarterback next Sunday, it is very likely the veteran will never start for this Jaguars team, at least not under the current staff.

3. Jaguars’ run-defense regressed

Without starting nickel corner D.J. Hayden and SAM linebacker Leon Jacobs, the Jaguars were forced to remain in their nickel package for much of the day. Rookie cornerback Breon Borders replaced Hayden in the starting lineup and while he was not the reason why the run defense suffered, not having a competent linebacker on the strong side of the ball impacted the team greatly.

Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Jaguars’ defense 19 times for 160 yards during Sunday’s matchup. Part of the reason why the Jaguars were unable to stop the Texans’ running game late was the sheer amount of plays the Texans ran to begin the game.

In the first quarter, the Texans ran 20 total plays while the Jaguars offense was only able to produce nine total plays.

4. Jaguars cannot rely on penalties, but two changed the course of the game

While the Jaguars should not, and cannot rely on penalties, the team had two costly controversial calls in the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup.

With an opportunity to score, Minshew threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. who was able to haul in the pass but was called for offensive pass interference. A few plays later the Jaguars would botch a field goal attempt and give the Texans the football at the 50-yard line.

Following the change of possession, Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Specifically, Campbell was called for lowering his head to initiate contact with a defenseless rusher. The Texans would net only a field goal on this drive, but it was a potential 10-point swing as Chark’s interference call was questionable, and Campbell did not even touch Watson on the play.

5. Keelan Cole shines in Dede Westbrook’s absence

Although the Jaguars clearly missed their 1B receiver in Dede Westbrook, rarely-utilized receiver Keelan Cole was able to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season, and possibly since 2017.

While it was not sensational, Cole hauled in five out of six of his targets for 80 yards on the day. The Jaguars could not get anything going down the field, however, Cole was able to get open on routine crossing routes.

In the coming weeks, look for Cole to have a bigger role in the Jaguars offense, especially with veteran receiver Chris Conley playing so up-and-down (2 receptions on 7 targets for 32 yards).

DeFilippo recently spoke about Cole and understands the third-year receiver may be frustrated with his snap count.

“I am proud of the way he stayed in it and even though he has not gotten the playing time,” DeFilippo said after the Jaguars victory over Bengals. “Everyone wants to play every snap. I’m sure he wants [more playing time]. He has done a great job staying in it.”

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Jaguars to make tough decision next week, Minshew Mania over for now

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass in the first half against the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) were embarrassed early Sunday morning via a 26-3 loss to the rival Houston Texans (6-3). Minshew-Mania may be over for now, but it won’t be the last time the rookie sensation starts for the team.

To put it simply, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not play well at all yesterday. Completing 27/47 (57%) of his passes for 309 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles lost, Minshew looked lost during the second half of the game on Sunday.

Minshew has been everything the team could have hoped for — and much more — out of a sixth-round quarterback, but between what transpired yesterday, and a few of his past performances — against winning teams –, the Jaguars will likely see what they can get out of veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

For three quarters, Minshew looked okay. While there was plenty that went wrong, the rookie was able to make key throws, during key situations. One play, in particular, stands out. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Jaguars could not seem to get anything going before Minshew scrambles around and eventually finds a wide-open Ryquell Armstead in the middle of the field. Armstead would take the ball 31 yards and set the team up for their only points of the game.

Minshew’s ability to improvise has been his bread and butter this season, and although he was not able to work his magic often against the Texans, these were the types of plays that gave pause in the Minshew/Foles debate.

During the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and Minshew were forced to take more shots downfield in a sort of desperation move while trailing 19-3. Although playcalling can certainly be questioned, the decision making of the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was equally perplexing. Throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, Minshew had no chance at making a little magic to lead the team to another come-from-behind victory.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be forced to make a decision on his quarterback, but not right now. After the game, Marrone indicated he will wait until the Sunday before the team returns from their week 10 bye week to talk to both quarterbacks.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I’m going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don’t have to make a decision and have time,” Marrone said shortly after the game when asked about making the quarterback decision. “That’s what I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I’ll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we’ll be able to discuss where we’re going to go. That’s pretty much my plan.”

While Minshew did not have a great game yesterday, the decision will be made on more than just one game, Marrone said.

The Jaguars’ head coach is stuck with an incredibly tough decision. At 4-5, the team needs a spark. The Jaguars need to win down the stretch and having to rely on a rookie — still going through ups and downs — is exhausting. While Foles may not be “the answer”, he is the only other option at this moment, and the Jaguars absolutely believe in the veteran.

Although this may be the end of Minshew starting in Jacksonville this season, his achievements — 188/307 (61%) completions for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — should not go unnoticed. The team absolutely still believes in the rookie quarterback, and he has a golden opportunity — if not this season — next year to prove everyone wrong.

One of the best, most fun performances out of a Jaguars’ quarterback over the first half of the season ever, is nothing to get upset about. Minshew provided spectators with Minshew-Mania, Minshew-Magic, and any other Minshew-ism one can think of.

For now, it is very likely Foles will make his Jaguars’ debut once again after breaking his left clavicle during the opening game of the season. In 11 plays this season Foles completed five out of eight of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

It may be over for now, but this is just the beginning, and having the problem of deciding between a former Superbowl MVP and a rookie sensation at quarterback is a good thing. Depending on how Foles plays — if he is to be named the starter next Sunday –, Minshew could get yet another opportunity as the Jaguars progress from their 4-5 record.

Bonus clip:

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Jaguars fail to seize opportunity in London, falling 26-3 to Houston Texans

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rushes for a first down during the first half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) fell to Houston Texans (6-3) in a disappointing pre-bye week game in London, England. The Jaguars absolutely did not have home-field advantage on the day. 

The Jaguars took to their annual London voyage with a lot of optimism, however, all of that optimism was quickly quieted by the Houston Texans (6-3) as they were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, holding the team to just three points on the day.  The Texans would win 26-3 and kill any chances the Jaguars may have had at earning the division title in a few weeks.

To begin the game, the Jaguars opted to start out on defense with the Texans struggling early on in games this season. Holding the Texans to just three points to start the game, the Jaguars defense showed up big, especially as Jaguars’ cornerback A.J. Bouye shadowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who finished with just eight receptions for 48 yards. The Jaguars seemed to find a groove early on during the first half of the game, but their inability to score in the red zone reared it’s head yet again.

In what is likely his last game starting for the Jaguars this season — at least for now — Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed just 27 out of 47 of his passes for 309 yards and two interceptions. Minshew also fumbled the football two times near the end of the game, which would ultimately end it at Wembley stadium.

While the Jaguars defense played well early on, they stood no chance against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson who completed 22 out of 28 of his passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely elusive, Watson was able to escape from the Jaguars pass rushers all day long. The Texans effectively ended any chance of the Jaguars coming back after Watson completed a long throw to Hopkins for 21 yards to the Jaguars’ one-yard line. The Texans would score on a one-yard run by Duke Johnson putting the team up 19-3 late in the third quarter.

All four of Minshew’s turnovers would come in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars attempted to climb back in the game. Missing their second-most targetted wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars and Minshew couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game.

The Jaguars’ run game was equally disappointing today as running back Leonard Fournette could only edge out 40 yards on 11 rushes.

Perhaps the best play of the game by the Jaguars’ defense, near the end of the game Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde sprinted free and was looking to go into the endzone when Jaguars’ safety Jarrod Wilson showed incredible hustle to force a fumble at the last second, turning the ball over to the Jaguars’ offense.

The good fortune wouldn’t last long, however, as Minshew would go on to throw his final interception of the game to completely seal the game for the Texans offense.

The Jaguars’ offense simply did not get anything going today, similar to their game against the New Orleans Saints in week six earlier this year. Minshew was sacked only four times on the day as the Texans did not want him to escape the pocket.

The team will have a very tough decision to make during their week 10 bye week. Ultimately, the team will need to decide between veteran quarterback Nick Foles or the rookie quarterback in Minshew.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be making the decision, and after falling 26-3 today largely due to the play of the team’s quarterback, it may be a no-brainer.

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